Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Move to Limit the Home Inspector’s Reports at Home Buyer’s Expense

The Home Inspector Licensure Board has proposed changes to the Inspection Report that will virtually tie the hands of Home Inspectors in being able to provide any educated professional opinion in their reports.

It is my opinion that this proposed change regarding home inspector services is coming as a result of pressure from the powerful lobby of the large Real Estate firms and their Listing Agents.

As an Exclusive Buyer’s Only Realtor, we rely on the Home Inspector’s report to help protect our Buyers from purchasing a home that could later result in costly repairs. It is important to us that we have as extensive an inspection and report as possible.

Limiting the inspectors to only reporting factual items is rendering the report almost useless. When the Licensing of Home Inspectors was instituted they removed the ability of North Carolina home inspectors to mention code violations in the report. That was the equivalent of tying one hand behind their backs. Now they are proposing to tie both hands-- all at the expense of the Home Buyer and to the advantage of the Seller.

When we go to a Doctor and he examines us, we rely on his professional expertise and his OPINION along with the facts to diagnose us. A home is analogous to our bodies, ever changing, needing maintenance and you can’t always see the exact problem but when you know the signs of future problems, you need to have those things “diagnosed.”

Rather than changing the Report, why don’t they change the requirements to be a Home Inspector? In my opinion, if you can pass the Licensing Exam you can be a home inspector with no real experience in construction, engineering or other related fields.

If they tie the home inspector’s hands, then we might as well hire engineers to do the inspections because they will be able to give opinions and also be able to site code violations.

As Exclusive Buyer’s Agents, we are very selective of the home inspectors we recommend to our buyers, because we do know there are many that are marginally qualified to perform a thorough inspection and provide a detailed report. We have stopped using inspectors because they become more interested in pleasing Real Estate Agents than providing a thorough, detailed report for the Buyer.

There has always been a push from the Listing Real Estate companies for the Home Inspectors to water down their reports as much as possible. It is hoped this new effort to limit the ability of the Home Inspectors to truly serve the Buyers they are working for will be defeated.

If you wish to voice your opinion, you should contact the NC Department of Insurance, Home Inspectors Licensing Division.

I invite you to send us your thoughts and comments on this emerging issue that greatly impacts real estate and home sales throughout RTP and the state of North Carolina.

By Ann Davis, Owner/Broker

State Rule Seeks to Limit Home Inspectors to Facts-Only Reports

RALEIGH — Many home inspectors aren't happy about a new state mandate that they say it will make it harder for them to alert home buyers to safety defects in properties they are considering.

Folks on the other side of the debate have a different take on it, saying it will benefit the public by trying to squeeze inspectors’ opinions out of their reports.

Both sides agree it will make it easier to buy and sell homes.

Inspections are not required in North Carolina, but they are often recommended for both new and existing construction. The reports can be quite lengthy, and buyers often focus on the summary page, not the details.

A new state mandate could change what would appear on that page.

"It tries to get as much opinion out of us as we can," said James Liles, a member of the state Home Inspector Licensure Board in the state Department of Insurance.

The board regulates the 1,000-plus North Carolina Home Inspectors statewide.

Liles says the board voted to change the rules to make sure inspectors stick to the facts.

“It (the report) should give whoever, whether it's the buyer, seller, real estate agent, whoever, a picture in time of what that house looks like, what needs to be repaired, what needs further investigation and what safety concerns are if they are of a factual nature," Liles said.

On the other side, home inspectors with whom WRAL spoke say the changes will only make life easier for real estate agents.

"Unwitting buyers will walk into situations where they either have expenses or safety issues that are related to the lack of our ability to tell them what's going on with their house," inspector Bill Delamar said.

"When you omit that sort of opinion, that sort of professional knowledge, which is what that would do, then you put the public in danger," Delamar said.

The mandate has not taken effect yet. Public comments will be accepted until Oct. 15, then reviewed this December by the State Board of Rules and Regulation.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Even though there was a decrease in the volume of sales, the prices increased in the 3rd quarter 1.4% over the 2nd quarter in the Raleigh/Cary MSA (metropolitan statistical area) and 2.3% in the Durham MSA according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. These statistics place the 2 MSA’s in the top 10% of the nation for price growth.

Year to date prices have increased 7.2% in Raleigh/Cary and 7.8% in Durham. These statistics reflect the fact that the Triangle never saw the huge rise in housing prices seen elsewhere in the country. In fact, OFHEO said in its news release Thursday, many of the areas where home prices are dropping are areas where they were skyrocketing just a year ago - suggesting that much of the drop seen nationwide is due to local markets correcting themselves.

This should dispel the idea of home buyers that they can get a “good deal” in the Triangle area with tremendous price reductions. Triangle Home Buyers tend to listen to the national news reports and not realize that the national crisis does not apply here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Choosing the Right Home Loan in Today’s Mortgage Market

Do not let all the media hype scare you away from your goal of purchasing a home. Mortgage rates are still excellent and most loan programs are very safe if you are working with a reputable Mortgage Lender.

Many of the mortgage problems today have occurred because people chose 100% or interest only financing. Many were in what are called an 80-20 mortgage. It was an 80% first mortgage and a 20% second mortgage. The 20% second mortgage many times was an equity mortgage that had an adjustable rate. When interest rates started going up, the interest only loans and the second mortgage payments increased dramatically, making it difficult for people to manage the larger payments. Even in an appreciating real estate market that is risky if you are on a limited income. If you choose the 80-20 mortgage route, make sure the 20% is also a fixed rate. (These loans are now almost extinct.)

Here are some tips to help you choose the right mortgage in today's mortgage market:

  • If you need a 100% loan -- get a fixed rate so you will know exactly what your payments will be and they won't change. Also, if you choose the 80-20 mortgage route, make sure the 20% is also a fixed rate.
  • Do your homework and weigh down payment vs. 100% loan. The more down payment you make, the easier it is to get a loan and you may also get a lower interest rate.

  • Choose a local reputable Mortgage Lender. You will be less likely to risk being involved with a lender that may be in trouble, which could cause loan funding problems as you approach closing.

  • Get pre-qualified before you begin looking for a home. This prevents you looking at homes beyond your price range. Of course, you are going to want to purchase the nicer, higher priced home if you see that first. By today’s standards, you may qualify for much more than you may be comfortable with and just because you are pre-qualified you don’t have to spend the maximum amount.

  • Do not be talked into purchasing a home that is beyond your budget. You may not be able to buy your dream home this time but you will be investing in your future by building equity in this home to invest in the dream home at a later time.

There are many types of loans available to you. Be sure you are comfortable with the monthly payment and that you know what your payment will be, should interest rates increase. Insist the mortgage lender explain completely anything you do not understand. No question is a dumb one and we sometimes forget that most people do not understand the mortgage lingo.

For a more detailed explanation of the mortgage process and a recommendation for local lenders who meet the above criteria please contact FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc. at 800-333-2893 or visit www.ForHomeBuyers.com. You may also attend our next Home Buying Seminar, “How to Avoid Costly Home Buying Mistakes” on January 8, 2008.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Downtown Raleigh School Named Blue Ribbon School for 2007

Raleigh, NC – The U.S. Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has announced that Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic School has been chosen as a National No Child Left Behind – Blue Ribbon School for 2007. A total of eight schools in North Carolina received the national recognition.

The No Child Left Behind—Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private K-12 schools that make significant progress in closing the achievement gap or those whose students achieve at very high levels. The schools submit an extensive application and are selected by a panel based on one of the following criteria:

  • A school has at least 40 percent of its students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have dramatically improved their performance in at least the past three years in reading and mathematics and are achieving at high levels.

  • A school may be recognized if its students achieve at the highest levels, that is, if the school is in the top 10 percent of the schools in the nation in reading and mathematics in the last grade tested, as measured by an assessment referenced against national norms, or in the top 10 percent in its state as measured by a state test in at least the last grade tested.

Sacred Heart Cathedral School is being recognized for high achievement. Along with test scores, the schools were evaluated on other measures such as overall school program, assessment, curriculum, instructional methods and professional development. “This is a huge accomplishment and honor for our school. Words cannot express how proud I am of the faculty, staff, students and parents for making this a school community that is able to compete and be recognized on a national level,” says Donna Moss, Principal of Sacred Heart Cathedral School. Since its founding in 1909, Cathedral School has played a dynamic role in the North Carolina educational community. It was the first school in North Carolina to educate Native American children. It was also the first Catholic School to integrate when high school students from St. Monica’s School began attending Cathedral School in the 1950’s. Even today, Cathedral School is recognized as the hallmark of ethnic and racial diversity among Raleigh’s private schools. Located in its historic building on Hillsborough Street in downtown Raleigh, Sacred Heart Cathedral School is among the oldest in the Diocese of Raleigh. www.cathedral-school.net. Contact: Trudie Williamson; (919) 832-4711; williamson@cathedral-school.net

Cary Voters Have Spoken Out for Managed Growth with Election of New Mayor

"It truly is a victory for all of Cary," said Harold Weinbrecht, 51, a SAS software programmer and newly elected Mayor. "Not only a victory for those of us who care about a balanced way to approach growth but a victory for those of us who want to be heard. We wanted a voice."

Now Weinbrecht will lead the suburban boomtown of about 123,000 people between Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, where the techie rode a tide of discontent about the effects of rapid growth in the Triangle's third-largest city.


Growth seems sure to slow somewhat in Cary, where all the winners Tuesday favor slowing development to a more manageable rate while roads, schools, parks, and water and sewer catch up.


Even Cary's most pro-growth candidates acknowledged that development of big tracts surrounded by established neighborhoods will remain a hot issue as "doughnut holes" fill in and the town begins to reach its outward limits. The issue inflamed residents this year near the intersection of Davis Drive and High House Road, where the Town Council approved large mixed-use projects in the geographic center of town; some of the irked residents got involved in the election campaigns. The election results suggest that large-scale infill development will get closer scrutiny.


Widening roads and building parks are popular in Cary, and all of the winners rated them a high priority. Several also highlighted a core infrastructure project the town can't long delay: building an expensive sewage treatment plant with Apex and Morrisville.

In the end, the voters had the final say on growth policy. And they gave Weinbrecht four years -- and a friendly council -- to pursue his vision for Cary.

Matthew Eisley, Staff Writer, www.NewsObserver.com

Friday, November 2, 2007

Heritage Golf Community in Wake Forest Opens New Community- Heritage Reserve

Wake Forest, NC., Fall 2007. Heritage Reserve is now open for sales. Built by the Cunnane Group of Charlotte, N.C., Heritage Reserve offers outstanding views of the 10th, 11th and 14th holes of the Heritage Golf Club, as well as a private, low-maintenance lifestyle. These Charleston-style homes range in size from 3,000-3,500 square feet and are priced from the low $500s. Heritage Reserve is part of the Heritage Wake Forest residential community developed by Ammons Development Group.

Located near the downtown district of Wake Forest, Heritage Wake Forest features beautiful custom homes with a wide variety of home plans and architectural styles. The community features several amenities, which include the Heritage Swim and Tennis Club as well as the award-winning Heritage Golf Club. For more information on Heritage Wake Forest, visit www.heritagewakeforest.com. For more information call FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc. at 919-878-1110 or 800-333-2893 or visit www.ForHomeBuyers.com.

This neighborhood in Heritage Wake Forest offers amazing views of the golf course along with a private, low-maintenance lifestyle to potential home buyers. FOR HomeBUYERS’ Exclusive Buyer’s Only Realtors look forward to selling the beautiful Charleston-style homes in Heritage Reserve.

Chapel Hill with increasing jobs, excellent schools and controlled growth, has fewer homes on the market than other areas of the Triangle

Job growth, attractive schools and a slow-but-steady rate of community development are saving the greater Chapel Hill area from being swamped by the housing crisis that has stymied the rest of the nation.

"The North Carolina market — Chapel Hill included — remains relatively stable, but soft by comparison to the previous six years," Kent said. From 2001 to 2006, North Carolina saw record home sales. Year-to-date, however, the number of North Carolina home sales are down 8 percent. Chapel Hill home sales are down 4 percent.

The average list price for a home in Chapel Hill stands at $469,000, up 4 percent from last year and way above everyone else in the county and the entire Triangle. However, the sold price is up less than 1 percent.

"We want prices to go up but be sustainable," said Stacey Anfindsen, managing partner of Birch Appraisal Group and preparer of the market update for the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors.

The good news is that homes continue to appreciate in North Carolina. According to the market update, comparing the first quarter of 2006 to the first quarter of 2007 the rate for housing appreciation in the United States was 4.3 percent. In North Carolina, it was 7.99 percent. Since January 2005 the average for re-sales in Orange County is 7.54 percent.

The work force in Orange County increased 3.1 percent since May 2006. The large number of newcomers to the area raises the demand for housing near the universities and Research Triangle Park.

Many new employees looking to relocate families come to Chapel Hill because of the schools. During the 2006-07 school year, all schools met their Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Newsweek ranked East Chapel Hill High School 105 in America’s top high schools for 2007.

Currently, there are fewer houses available for sale in Orange County than in nearby counties.

Anfindsen agrees. "Durham and Wake Counties are exploding, but not Orange," he said. That is not to say that Chapel Hill is a no-growth area. The Town Council takes time and careful planning before allowing new building in the area. "The [Chapel Hill] Town Council is very deliberate and thorough," Perry said. "As long as you’re doing something that is a benefit" the town welcomes new growth.

The inventory of homes in Orange County has risen 23 percent, and more are up for sale. In July 2006, 695 houses were listed. In July 2007, 856 homes were listed. A home stayed on the market for an average of 45 days in July 2006. In July 2007 the length was 53 days.

Realtors remain hopeful for the fall market.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Triangle home sales drop 24%

Sales of existing homes in the Triangle dropped 24 percent in September as woes in the national housing market continued to chip at the local economy.

Data released by the Triangle Multiple Listing Service show that 2,347 homes were sold in September, down from 3,098 in September 2006.

Local home sales had been trending down for months, most recently dropping 8 percent in August and 11 percent in July. But the area hadn't yet seen such a sharp downturn equivalent to those in other markets, where declining home costs and troubles with sub-prime mortgage markets have embroiled economies. The time of year coupled with the media’s gloom and doom predictions has finally begun to impact the Triangle real estate market.

Prices weren't the culprit. The average closing price on a home rose 6 percent year-over-year to $242,885.

But as foreclosures grow locally and the national economy slows, local home inventory rises. It continued to rise in September, when there were 17,929 active listings - up 22 percent from the year prior. Real estate markets that have not lost value are Williamsburg Real Estate, Williamsburg Realtor, Realtor Williamsburg, Realtor in Williamsburg, Realtor Williamsburg VA, and buyers agent in Williamsburg.

And unlike in recent months, when wealthier ZIP codes dominated home sales, the top three ZIPs for sales all came in areas that have seen high foreclosure activity. Fuquay-Varina's 27526 topped the list with 96 home sales, while southeast Raleigh's 27610 was No. 2 with 90 and Wake Forest's 27587 was No. 3 with 88.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Great Time to Buy a Home is NOW!

In our opinion at FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc., this is the best time of year for you to purchase a new home. With the "mortgage crisis" looming and foreclosures on the rise, it makes the next few months a great time to purchase a home. Typically, October through April the market slows a bit and that gives you, as the buyer, more leverage to negotiate a better price. Also, if the home is on the market during these months the seller is usually very motivated to sell.

New construction home builders and the large national builders are offering some very big discounts and other incentives. Because their inventories are larger than they like to carry and their end of year projections are down, there is room to do some serious negotiating with home builders.

While the Triangle (Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest) Real Estate Market has remained strong when other markets have stalled, we are beginning to feel the trickle down affect as many potential buyers cannot sell their homes in other areas of the country. Slowing sales in other real estate markets, is leading to an increase in the inventory of homes on the market in the Triangle. Also, a larger inventory of homes and a longer "time on market" is to the buyer's advantage, as this helps the prices to level off instead of continuing to increase.

The best months to purchase are November – January. So if you are considering purchasing a home in the next 9 months, you may want to move your timetable up slightly to take advantage of the present real estate market conditions. Give FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc. a call at 919-878-1110 or 800-333-2893 or visit www.ForHomeBuyers.com for an appointment to discuss your family’s needs in a home and how to get started.

There is No Additional Charge to have someone working ONLY for YOU because we are compensated through the transaction. Why risk "Dual Agency" with an agent working with a listing company and trying to represent both you and the seller at the same time? Why not use the oldest and most experienced Exclusive Buyer Only Realtors in the Triangle, FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc.?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Buying Foreclosures: Deal or No Deal?

RISMEDIA, Oct. 1, 2007- Buyers and would-be investors often look to foreclosure sales to find real estate bargains. But newcomers to this market could find some unpleasant surprises if they go in blind. All homes should be thoroughly inspected by a professional home inspector before sealing the deal.

Why inspect if you can’t negotiate?

Foreclosure homes are usually “as-is” sales. This means that buyers cannot negotiate for the cost of needed repairs, as they may do in a traditional home purchase. Buyers must absorb repair costs themselves and consider this in their purchase offer at auction. So why get a professional inspection on a foreclosure property?

Too many foreclosure buyers think they’re getting a deal when, in fact, they might be purchasing a property with substantial and costly defects. The repair of these major issues could exceed the savings gained in buying a foreclosed property.

Sellers at foreclosure auctions are not usually obligated to disclose defects. But buyers can empower themselves by getting a professional property inspection before the auction that will provide valuable insights about the condition of the home. If pre-auction property inspections are not permitted at the foreclosure sale, buyers will need to weigh that risk carefully.

Knowledge is power

Even with a significant influx of newly foreclosed properties due to the sub prime mortgage mess, the foreclosure market can be competitive, and it is often dominated by experienced real estate investors. Armed with the right information you can make informed bids and find the best home at the best deal. After all, a bargain isn’t a bargain if it costs more than expected down the line.

Remember, buying foreclosed properties can be a risky business, so be certain to consult with needed professionals, including a reputable, certified home inspector, to address questions about specific issues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cary named among top cities for schools

Triangle Business Journal - September 5, 2007

Web site RelocateAmerica.com has named Cary one of is "Top 25 Places to Live to Go to School."

The site, a venture of Michigan real estate firm HomeRoute, touts the high quality of private schools in the Cary area, the heavy use of technology in Cary schools, the Cary schools' emphasis on foreign language, and local schoolchildren's high acceptance rate into colleges and universities.

A Comprehensive Triangle Information Resource about the Communities within the Triangle Area of North Carolina

A web site resource for those interested in finding information in a consolidated location for all of the communities within the Triangle including the major cities of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill. The site also includes all the smaller communities in Wake, Durham and Orange Counties. The site is www.familyofcommunities.com.

Web sites for the governmental agencies of the local towns and cities, the chambers of commerce, and visitors bureaus are included in this web site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Triangle home sales fall 8%

Triangle home sales were down 8 percent in August, according to data released Monday by the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.

Some 3,382 homes were sold in the area in the month, down from 3,688 in August 2006, MLS reported. Sales were down significantly year over year in Wake, Johnston and Durham counties, while Orange County sales were essentially unchanged, ticking upward to 199 from 196.

The decline represents a general trend in the Triangle, where home sales were also down 11 percent from July 2006 to July 2007 in a market where lenders have become wary about who they give loans to and buyers are leery of pulling the trigger on a deal.

Hammering home that point, MLS reported that the number of active residential listings was up nearly 20 percent year over year to 17,389.

The Wake Forest ZIP code 27587 continued its reign as the most active ZIP in the Triangle with 129 home sales in August.

The Southeast Raleigh ZIP of 27610 was No. 2 with 123 sales, while the Fuquay-Varina ZIP of 27526 was No. 3 with 118. Both ZIP codes have had high levels of foreclosure activity recently, as Triangle Business Journal discovered in a recent investigation.

It is my feeling that part of the reason fewer homes have been sold is because prices have continued to rise in this area, pricing some buyers out of the market. Some have been scared away from buying due to the all the national media hype about the "slow down" in real estate sales and the mortgage "crisis."

Our market has remained stronger than many other markets, we may now be experiencing a trickle down affect from potential buyers who are unable to sell their homes in the market from which they are relocating.
By Ann Davis, Owner/Broker FOR HomeBUERS, Inc.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Get your free C.L.U.E. report

A C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report is to insurance as your credit report is to your financial status. Some insurance companies, when you call up and ask questions, will log it on your C.L.U.E. report. Any claims also show up on the report. This is a tactic that makes other insurers not want to do business with you. But you can order your free C.L.U.E. report once a year just like you can with your credit report. And if something turns up false, you can challenge it. Go to www.choicetrust.com to order your C.L.U.E. report. You'll have to fill in some blanks and give your social security number, but then you can check out your personal auto and your personal homeowners report. They do charge you if you need a homeowners report on more than one address. (from www.ClarkHoward.com)

When purchasing a home, it would be advisable to request a C.L.U.E. report on the home you are purchasing. It could be difficult for you to insure the new property if the home has had a large claim or several small ones. If any of the claims were water related, the insurance companies may be hesitant to insure it due to the potential for future mold claims. If they agree to insure, the cost may be more expensive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reading trumps math in Wake scores: Math results for third-eighth graders have risen

RALEIGH - Wake County third through eighth grade students are better at reading than they are at math, according to preliminary test results released Thursday.
According to end-of-grade test results for the 2006-07 school year, 76 percent of students performed at or above grade level in mathematics, compared with 91 percent who read at least at grade level.
"Math has become important, and so we're looking at how do we keep reading where it is and bring math to that level," said David Holdzkom, Wake schools' assistant superintendent for evaluation and research.
Holdzkom said at a news conference Thursday that the math scores had improved since the 2005-06 school year, when 74.5 percent of students were performing at or above grade level. That year, new math tests were established and some systems saw a drop in scores, which is typical when tests change, Holdzkom said. "We're now seeing a rebound," he said.

High school end-of-course results dropped from 79.5 percent in 2005-06 to 74 percent in 2006-07. School leaders said one factor in the decline could be that the district is growing and more students have to be tested.

Kinea White Epps, Staff Writer, The News & Observer, Aug 24, 2007, www.newsobserver.com/news/education/wake/story/681076.html

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Wake County Foreclosures Increasing

The number of foreclosed properties more than doubled in the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan statistical area (MSA) the first six months of 2007.

According to RealtyTrac, a California company that tracks such data, the MSA - which includes Wake, Franklin and Johnston counties - saw 2505 foreclosure filings from January to June, or one filing for every 158 households.

Overall, 1906 properties had foreclosure filings on them, up 105 % from the same six-month period in 2006.

There were multiple foreclosure filings on some properties, accounting for the difference between the number of foreclosure filings and the number of properties hit with foreclosure filings.

The Raleigh-Cary MSA was No. 60 out of the nation's 100 biggest MSAs in foreclosures per household. The Charlotte-Gastonia MSA was No. 38, while the Greensboro-High Point MSA was No. 70.

The ignominious honor of being No. 1 went to Stockton, Calif., which had one foreclosure filing for every 27 households. The Detroit area was No. 2, while Las Vegas was No. 3.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Last Minute Budget Deal Sells Out North Carolina Homeowners

As North Carolina State House and Senate Members grew weary and left to start their summer vacations, homeowners across the state got the short end of the stick. To wrap up session, the members struck a budget deal. Included in the arrangement was authority for all counties to place a .4% transfer tax and a 1/4% sales tax increase on their respective county ballots. Although most legislators stood firmly against such a land transfer tax, proponents of the tax made a strong argument for letting voters decide. NCAR and a coalition of groups fought off four statewide transfer tax bills and eleven county bills.

According to Wake County Manager David Cooke, there are no plans right now to place either question on the ballot in 2007. Durham and Chatham counties are expected to beat us to the punch with a ballot measure to include the transfer tax this fall. However, county officials may be shocked to discover that polling shows between 74-80% of likely voters oppose the transfer tax. The numbers only decline slightly when tied to school construction needs.
Although the Wake County Commissions have historically supported the sales tax as a more equitable taxing measure (that allows the capture of transient dollars), Commission Chair, Tony Gurley indicated that he would like to see both questions on the ballot.

By Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors News

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Triangle Real Estate Market Update

Are You Considering Buying a Home in the Triangle Area of North Carolina?

The Triangle Real Estate market continues to be a Seller’s market with increasing appreciation of property values. Home building continues to be very active with no indication of slowing down.

The Triangle is made up of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. All three of these areas are very distinctly different communities with their own individual personalities. If you are planning to purchase a home in the Triangle area you may want to evaluate each area to see which of the communities fits your lifestyle and the needs of your family.

Many people are relocating for employment in the Research Triangle Park (RTP). There are also a large number of people retiring to the Triangle because of the quality of life and access to health care.

Real estate prices in Chapel Hill are the highest per square foot of the three areas. Raleigh and Durham home prices are comparable to each other. Chapel Hill home prices are averaging around $280,000. Raleigh’s average price is around $260,000.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rising Mortgage Rates contribute to Real Estate Slowdown and Rising Inventory

For the last six to nine months, home builders have been hit hard as rising mortgage delinquency rates have made lenders much more reluctant to issue new loans, causing home purchases to fall and inventories of unsold homes to rise. In June, new-home sales had fallen more than 40 percent from their peak two years ago, and more than half a million new houses- nearly eight months of supply- sit in inventory, according to the most recent report from the National Association of Home Builders. Contract cancellations, meanwhile, have hit nearly 30 percent for some home builders.

Raleigh’s Inside the Beltline (ITB) and West Raleigh are the area’s with the highest current supply (12 months). Cary/Apex/Morrisville (CAM) is the area with the lowest current supply (4 months).

Things may not get better for a while. The National Association of Realtors said that new home sales this year were likely to fall 19 percent from last year, worse than its previous forecast of a 17.7 percent drop. First quarter ’07 the new construction market in the Triangle area recorded negative sales growth of almost 4% compared to 1st quarter ‘06.

The latest survey taken by the National Association of Home Builders indicates that 56 percent of builders are now offering incentives, up from about 45 percent a year ago.

And those incentives are growing bigger.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anxious Home Builders Pile on Incentives to Attract Home Buyers.

With the housing market looking increasingly frail, home builders and real-estate agents are going to new extremes to attract buyers, dangling lavish incentives and slashing prices.

While the Triangle area, which includes Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, is not affected by the housing market downturn in the lower price ranges below $400-500k, the inventory of homes above $500,000 is experiencing some of the national slowing trend.

In Raleigh, North Carolina home builders are offering to pay two years of property taxes and insurance- worth as much as $150,000 on houses priced as high as $2.5 million- for buyers of completed homes in upscale areas of Research Triangle Park, NC.

Home Builders in neighboring states are offering as much as $100,000 off the cost of upgrades ranging from granite countertops to a conservatory. Some real estate agents are offering to pay some months of mortgage payments on estate homes.

Across the country, the theme is the same: Home builders and home sellers are juicing their efforts to unload single-family homes. Among other things, they are offering buyers cash discounts of as much as 20 percent, throwing in a pool, and agreeing to finish the basements, garages, and other spaces at a cost of several thousand dollars- incentives much richer than builders were offering as recently as six months ago, when the downturn didn’t look as bleak. In the Triangle area, home sellers are offering trips to Paris and other exotic areas.

Tips for purchasing in a Buyer’s market
How to get concessions from home builders:
  • Buy a finished home: builders want inventory off their books and they may cut the price substantially.
  • Have a pre-approval letter: This shows a builder you have financing already in place.
  • Close quickly: Wrap up a purchase within 30 days; builders want to sell before the next bank payment is due
  • Avoid contingencies: Don’t make your purchase contingent on selling a home or finding financing. A contingency removes most of your negotiating power.

These tips apply to any market conditions, however, in a seller’s market the concessions will not be as great.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What Home Buyers Want: Top Preferences when purchasing Home

More home buyers want extra garage space with two or more spaces in their homes, according to the “2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences,” which was released by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The number of buyers expressing a desire for oversized garages grew 16 percentage points since NAR's last survey of buyer preferences in 2004. About 57 percent of home buyers surveyed now say they want an oversized garage. What's more, among buyers who purchased homes without big garages, 56 percent said they would have paid more for an oversized garage, compared to only 6 percent in the 2004 survey.
NAR's latest home buyer preference survey, which reports responses from buyers who purchased homes in 2006, asks buyers about the importance of 75 home features and room types.

What They're Shopping For

Other priorities for today’s home buyers include:

  • Air conditioning: three out of every four respondents surveyed ranked this as “very important.”
  • Master bedroom walk-in closet: 53 percent of buyers rated this as an important feature in a home.
  • Hardwood floors and granite countertops: each gained 7 percentage points in popularity since the 2004 survey; 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of buyers labeled these home features as very important.
  • Cable/satellite TV-ready: 46 percent, a growth of 6 percentage points from the 2004 survey, said this was important.
  • Energy efficiency: especially among new-home buyers — 65 percent of new-home buyers said energy efficiency home features are very important compared to 39 percent for buyers of existing homes.

Buyers also said they're willing to pay more for these extras. For example, 65 percent of buyers said they would be willing to pay a median $1,880 extra for a home with central air conditioning. One out of four buyers also was willing to pay a median of $4,760 more for waterfront property.

Regional Preferences

What home buyers want in the South, however, is not always what buyers in the West want. The survey identified some of the following regional preferences in home features:

  • Home buyers in the South and Midwest viewed central air conditioning as a priority, with 91 percent and 81 percent, respectively, saying this feature was very important.
  • Sixty-six percent of buyers in the South thought a walk-in closet in the master bedroom was very important, while 61 percent of Midwesterners valued an oversized garage.
  • In the Northeast, the highest percentage of buyers placed a premium on a backyard or play area (53 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 41 percent.
  • Two-thirds of buyers in the West want oversize garages (66 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 59 percent.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Raleigh/Cary NC One of Fastest Growing Metro Areas

The census bureau has identified the Raleigh/Cary North Carolina area as one of the 10 fastest growing metro areas in the US.

According to census bureau figures from April 1, 2000-July 1, 2006 the population has increased 24.8%.

This explains why the housing market in this area is NOT a buyer’s market. Prices are continuing to increase and it is difficult to find a good 1700 square foot home for less than $275,000 to $300,000.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Triangle is NO Buyers Real Estate Market as Media Implies

National media would lead everyone to believe the entire county is in a real estate slump. Not so here in the Triangle of North Carolina. While nationally many areas were artificially inflating real estate prices, the Triangle experienced a steady healthy growth. Those markets are the ones experiencing difficulty at present.

The Triangle real estate market is continuing its steady growth, as people are relocating to the area in tremendous numbers. Relocating buyers need to be aware that just because this is the South it does not mean you are going to be able to find something for $100,000. The average price in Wake County (Raleigh/Cary) is $250,000 and $300,000 in Orange County (Chapel Hill). By national standards, you still get a lot more house for your money in the Triangle than in most other metropolitan areas.

The Triangle real estate market is still very much a Sellers market. So don’t expect to come here and be able to negotiate $1000’s off the listed price of a home.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why Should I have a Home Inspection on a New Construction Home?

Just because it is a brand new home does not mean the builder has not missed important issues that may be costly for you to repair when discovered in the future.

Question: Don’t the city and county inspectors inspect the home for defects?

The municipal inspectors do not look for the same things that a Home Inspector looks for. You have several inspectors looking at different aspects of the home. None of them look at the home as a total system. You may have a framing final inspection before the plumber comes in to install plumbing and cut through a main floor joist. The municipal inspectors do not go on roofs and do not crawl into crawl spaces. Many times they only spot check certain items because of the demands on their schedules with the building boom that exists in the Triangle area.

You can not rely on the municipal inspectors to catch all the problems with a home. Only, by hiring your own Home Inspector can you be sure that all the issues can be repaired by the builder prior to closing.

Even the best builders rely on many sub-contractors and subs tend to do their work independently of other subs. One may undo something that another has done. We see duct work not attached, shingles missing from roofs, flashing not properly installed.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that celebrity endorsements of builders will get you a better home. ALWAYS, have a NEW HOME inspected!

Question: How many inspections should I have?

If you can find your home prior to the drywall being installed, that is the very best time to have your first inspection. A pre-drywall inspection will allow the Home Inspector to find things related to electrical wiring, plumbing and framing that would go unnoticed because they would be covered up when the drywall was installed.

Your second inspection should be completed after the Certificate of Occupancy has been issued by the county and all systems are operating i.e. water, electric and gas have been turned on. This enables the Home Inspector to operate all your appliances and systems to ensure they all work properly. This inspection should be performed prior to your punch list walk through with the Builder. All items found on your Home Inspection can then be included on the Builder’s punch list.

When you go to sell your home, items you were not aware of may show up when your Buyer has the home inspected. These could be very expensive repair items that could have been taken care of by the Builder when you purchased the home.

Always have a new construction home inspected!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Procuring Cause

Procuring Cause – The best kept secret most Realtors do not want you to know!
Be careful not to give up your right to choose your own Realtor who will represent ONLY you.
There has been an unspoken term in the real estate industry for many years that most home Buyers are never made aware of -- Procuring Cause. Also known in real estate circles as the Threshold Law.

Senario: You are just beginning to think about a new home. So you go out driving around one week end, just to get an idea of what is on the market. You find an Open House and decide to go in. You spend a lot of time looking through the house, asking the Real Estate Agent a lot of questions about the home and the neighborhood, revealing your excitement that this seems to be just the home you had envisioned.

You go home to think about it and decide you should have a Realtor who is working for you and your best interests. One who can advise you on price to offer and negotiate the price on your behalf. You find a buyer’s agent and tell them you wish to write an offer on this home. When your agent contacts the listing agent, they ask who your buyers are because some of the details sound like a couple she spoke with over the week end. Sure enough, she knows your name and intimate details of your situation.

The listing agent informs your Buyer’s Agent that she was in the home when you visited over the week end and that she is the Procuring Cause of the sale. She is fine with your agent writing the contract but because she was the procuring cause, she will not agree to pay your agent’s commission. Since Realtors earn their living from commissions, unless you agree to pay your agent outside the transaction, it is doubtful they would agree to represent you on this home.
You now have to make a decision. Do you want to use the agent representing the Seller only (you have no representation) or Dual Agency (the agent trying to represent both you and the seller) or walk away from the home altogether?

The morale of this story: don’t start looking at homes before you select an agent to represent you. Select an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent, who will never have a conflict of interest with Dual Agency. A Buyer’s agent who works for a listing company, could end up as a Dual Agent if you purchase one of their company’s listings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Triangle Home Buyers BEWARE of paying too much for a home

Triangle Relocating Home Buyers BEWARE: Do not pay too much just because it looks like a good deal in the market from which you are moving.

I will preface this posting as strictly an individual Exclusive Buyer’s Agent’s opinion. This opinion is based upon no scientific studies or statistics just recent experience in the local housing market.

A disturbing trend seems to be developing in the Triangle home market. As many newcomers are merging on the Triangle, homes that are being listed thousands of $$$ above the comparable sales in the neighborhoods are being sold near or at the listed price. I cannot understand why anyone would want to pay so much above the market value of the property if they had been informed of the risk they may be taking should the market take a down turn.

There are only 2 explanations I can think of for paying too much for a home.
1- Buyers relocating from markets like the DC area, Massachusetts, California, etc. see homes in our market and think it is a fabulous deal. Yes, in their market maybe it would be, but in the Triangle market it is overpriced. Their Real Estate Agent should be advising them about the fair price for the property and not letting them pay too much for the property.

2- First time Buyers or inexperienced home buyers who have not studied the housing market and are not being advised by their Real Estate Agent of the comparable sales and advised of a fair market price for the property.

How to avoid paying too much:

Ask for the most recent (no more than 6 months back) comparison sales in the neighborhood you are considering. Compare cost per square foot, days on the market, and deduct any financial concessions (closing costs paid by seller) from the sales price. Your Real Estate Agent should provide this information without you having to ask as part of their service to you, the Buyer. They should also tell you what they think is a fair market value for the home you are considering.

It is not wise to pay more than the most expensive home in the neighborhood. It is also not wise to own the most expensive home in the neighborhood. Should you have to sell in a short period of time (less than 3-5 years) you could lose money. It also restricts you from making additions and upgrades because that would drive your value out of the range of the neighborhood and make it very difficult to recoup your investment.

Know for whom your Real Estate Agent is really working. If they work for the same company who has the home listed, they will be a “DUAL” Agent and will not be able to provide the above information.

Of course, as an Exclusive Buyer Agency, FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc. believes you should have an Exclusive Buyer’s Real Estate Agent working for you and all of the above information would be provided as part of our 100% Buyer Representation Service.

If you are a Relocating or an inexperienced home buyer, you don’t have to pay too much for your new home. Don’t get excited about the home because it seems like a good deal. Get the comparables and get the facts!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wake County Homebuyers Seeking Value Should Consider NE and Eastern Wake County:

NE and Eastern Wake County is where you will get more house for your money and see fast growing home appreciation.

Keep These RTP Real Estate Market Conditions in Mind: The I-540 beltway has just opened from US 1 (Capital Blvd) to the 264 by pass. This is allowing for much development to grow in that North East/East corridor of Wake County. You will see property values in that area soar because commuters now have much faster and easier access to Research Triangle Park.

The property values have been somewhat depressed in the Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon areas because of the traffic bottlenecks and travel time from those areas. Opening the 264 by pass was great for commuters from those areas but they still had to go in to I-440 to get to RTP and go around the South side of I-440. Now from the intersection of I-540 they can cut off many miles from their commute to the West side of Raleigh and RTP.

The property values had already started increasing with opening the 264 By Pass but now you will see a rapid increase in home values as people discover this area and the good deal you can get in that area. Now is the time to take a serious look at the Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon and the N. East corridor of Wake County.

Rolesville and Wake Forest have been hot spots for a few years with the anticipation of I-540 opening. Their popularity and development is continuing at a furious pace.

To date much of North East Wake County has been overlooked by many RTP homeowners as a very desirable area. All that is rapidly changing, with good schools opening and many new shopping areas popping up every where. Shopping is convenient to almost any where you would live in these areas.

Eastern Wake will not be far behind NE Wake with schools and shopping as people learn about the 264 and 540 traffic benefits. And with that will come appreciation in home values.I recommend that Wake County Homebuyers seeking maximum value and appreciation consider the emerging NE and Eastern Wake County areas for their next home purchase.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Welcome to the official FOR HomeBUYERS Inc. Blog

Welcome to the Triangle Raleigh Real Estate Blog brought to you by FOR HomeBUYERS, Inc. the oldest and most experienced Exclusive Buyer Real Estate Agency in the Triangle North Carolina area. As a 15 year old Buyer Only Real Estate company, serving 13 counties, our goal is to educate home buyers about the real estate market and to assist buyers in making the wisest investment possible. Because we have no conflict of interest, we are committed to providing unbiased real estate information to potential home buyers, whether moving locally or relocating from around the country.